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The UK has strong diplomatic, military, and economic ties with Bahrain.

In 2023, it plans to negotiate a trade agreement with the Gulf Cooperation Council, whose six members include the country. However, Bahrain’s human rights record has been of significant concern to the UK Government, and Bahrain was, until 2023, one of the UK’s 31 human rights priority countries.

This briefing introduces Bahrain’s politics, human rights, trade, and international relations. It also signposts further reading.

Please visit the Library’s Middle East pages for further analysis on the region’s politics.

What does this paper cover?

This 14-page briefing provides an introduction to Bahrain’s: 

  • Leadership, politics, and political rights, such as the right to vote, and freedom of expression and assembly
  • Human rights, such as the rights of women and migrant workers
  • Trade with the UK and current negotiations on a trade agreement 
  • Economy, including key statistics on population, economic growth and leading industries 
  • Foreign relations with the US, neighbouring Gulf states and Iran

Finding out more

The paper signposts further reading on each of these topics on pages 12 to 14. This includes links to recent UK Parliament proceedings on Bahrain and relevant Library briefing papers. 

Please visit the Library’s Middle East pages for further analysis on the region.

Update log

May 2022: Updated economic statistics and UK visa arrangements 

November 2022: Updated information on recent elections

September 2023: Updated economic statistics, UK human rights assessment and foreign relations. 

Documents to download

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